I am concerned about my front door (fire door) in my apartment. I live in a housing association low rise block of flats. How often should a fire door be checked in my apartment building and who is responsible?
Your apartment door must be appropriately fire-resistant to ensure a reliable means of escape during a fire. It is imperative that the door self-closes fully from any angle, facilitated by a door closer that operates automatically. Additionally, the door should be free from damage, unpainted, and devoid of gaps exceeding the thickness of a pound coin. While these checks may seem straightforward, they address immediate concerns about the door's fire resistance.
Various fire door installations exist, necessitating the prompt reporting of any concerns for assessment by a competent professional. Information on reporting faults and issues should be available, typically through your block manager. Fire doors, including flat entrance doors, are crucial components of fire safety, governed by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales. The responsibility for these doors lies with the Responsible Person, who may be the owner, occupier, employer, or person in control of the premises. Cooperation and coordination with relevant individuals are essential requirements for the Responsible Person.
While fire doors should have been assessed as part of a comprehensive fire risk assessment, it's crucial to acknowledge that damage may have occurred since the last assessment. The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 dictate that communal doors in blocks over 11 meters should be checked quarterly, and flat entrance doors should undergo annual checks. Residents in low-rise blocks under 11 meters in height may not require inspections at the same frequency; however, regular assessments should still be part of the comprehensive fire risk assessment.
The Fire Safety Order mandates the implementation of suitable fire precautions in block of flats to ensure common areas are safe for use as escape routes in case of a fire. The determination of appropriate fire precautions relies on a thorough fire risk assessment.
In summary you are neither the Responsible Person nor defined as the competent person but I’m sure they will be appreciative of potential defects being recognised and reported as soon as reasonably practicable. They should then have a way for a competent person to assess your door and provide the next steps.
Tom Welland MIFSM L.ISP, Director, Hampton Fire Risk Management